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Blue Front: Poems

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  179 ratings  ·  22 reviews
A stunning account of racism, mob violence, and cultural responsibility as rendered by the poet Martha Collins

the victim hanged, though not on a tree, this
was not the country, they used a steel arch
with electric lights, and later a lamppost, this
was a modern event, the trees were not involved.
—from "Blue Front"

Martha Collins's father, as a five-year-old, sold fruit outsid
Paperback, 84 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Graywolf Press
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  179 ratings  ·  22 reviews

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Jake Adam
Feb 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book was slow to open on the most necessary work, to teach you its method before using it most seriously. The last third of the book is amazing, incredibly strong and searching. Be patient with this book: it will reward.
Sep 07, 2017 rated it liked it
this book is difficult for me to follow as her writing is quite unsual for a non-native like me. however it strucked me really hard on how brutal human can be on one another.
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
I picked this up as I had just read Richard Peck's "The River Between Us" -- also set in Cairo -- and I thought there might be some interesting resonances.

I didn't enjoy the choppy, fragmentary, unpunctuated blur of many of these poems -- apparently I enjoy her structured poetry more, although I wouldn't say that is necessarily the case -- and I thought there were times when trying to parse out this psuedo stream of consciousness really robbed the poems of their power.

There were some I enjoyed h
Dec 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Collins has opened her own family history as a means of exploring racism. Even Cairo, IL seems to be the bigger statement here. And if Cairo, where else. And how else has it affected us. Perhaps this is where Collins wants to lead us. History is a narrative, and everyone seems to understand the inherent incompleteness of its argument (and even that it always seems to have some argument), but how is it that history actually influences people's lives. How does history make lynchings possible? Beca ...more
Apr 02, 2013 rated it liked it
I saw Martha Collins read at a local bookshop and was intrigued, so I picked up the book. I didn't find that the pauses and inflection she used in her reading were clearly marked by the printed work, which I consider a weakness. The "definition" poems (bury, shoot), scattered throughout, I find very interesting. However, her tendency to play with absences of language didn't always work and made the text feel too opaque in some places. I like the concept, and some of the execution. ...more
This was a non-fiction-based, book length poem about the author's father witnessing a double lynching when he was 5 in Springfield, IL in 1909. I appreciated Collins using poetry to explore the history of racism in her family as well as culturally. I found the narrative's fragmentation a bit confusing, but it was well-written. Yay for anti-racist poetry! ...more
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a rather difficult book to read, both for its subject and form. It is also a very satisfaying one if you take time and don't hurry through it. Definitely one of those books you go back to after a while and read many times. ...more
May 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: poetry fans, people interested in racism's lingering effects
This book, in part, tells the story of Collins' father and a lynching he witnessed as a little boy. And, of course, her attempt to understand what her father saw and what happened in his town. ...more
Susan Sonnen
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Terse perfection.
Jun 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Amazing and deft story, poem and social commentary
Feb 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
This collection was different from anything I've ever read. If you like structure in poems, this is not the book for you. ...more
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely exquisite book of poetry.
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Collins gives words to the unspeakable and creates beauty from ugliness.
Oct 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I'm writing a literary review of this book. It is unlike anything I've read, and quite excellent. ...more
Rebecca Cohen
Jan 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is my first book of poetry and it was quite nice.
Lisa P
Apr 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Somebody please read this! It's indescribable. I guess you have to at least appreciate poetry. If you do, this is such a unique and beautiful and haunting piece of work. ...more
Jul 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
as a whole, one of my absolute favourite poetry books. the poems are cohesive and tell of a bigger picture, unlike many poetry collections which are only collections of various poems.
Hope L. Justice
Jan 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: adult-poetry
This collection is unmoving despite being unusual. Perhaps it is so unmoving, because it is not her experience to connect to. In terms of form and delicacy, lacking. The concept is something I really liked: to tell a story all about a collection of moments culminating in something really violent. I did not find this collection paced well either.
Maughn Gregory
Once again, Martha Collins leads her fellow citizen readers of poetry to confront the ugliest, most hurtful truths about who we are as a people. I can't understand the reviews here who are put off by her "style". Grow up, this is the work poetry is meant to do. ...more
Robin Schaer
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Close to the end of the book, a section closes with "may / I help you please / make change" -- which is both a question and a directive. This difficult and moving book reckons with the brutal history of racism through one family's memories and erasures, and in doing so helps make change. ...more
Jan 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ipfw-fresh_14-15
"Lies" ...more
Karlo Mikhail
Sep 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Anti-racist tract in bricolage form.
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Martha Collins (born 1940 Omaha, Nebraska) is an American poet.

She graduated from Stanford University with a B.A., and the University of Iowa with a Ph.D.

She taught at University of Massachusetts Boston; she was the Pauline Delaney Chair in Creative Writing at Oberlin College.

She is editor of Field magazine. She is a member of International PEN.

(from Wikipedia)

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